The Lighter Side of Life and Death Interview & Giveaway

Happy Monday everybody! Today I'm happy to be the first stop on C.K. Kelly Martin's three book blog tour for The Lighter Side of Life and Death, One Lonely Degree, and I Know It's Over. I recently read and really liked The Lighter Side of Life and Death and am now pleased to have Mason - the main character of The Lighter Side of Life and Death here to answer a few questions.

To give you a quick introduction to Mason and the year he's been having, here's a brief synopsis of The Lighter Side of Life and Death courtesy of Goodreads.
Sixteen-year-old Mason Rice is having the night of his life. He's just delivered an incredible performance in the school play, basked in celebratory afterglow vibes at the party of the year, and lost his virginity to one of his best friends—the gorgeous but previously unobtainable Kat Medina. His dreams are coming true, and the future looks golden.

Unfortunately, Kat sees things very differently. Crossing the friendship line was a big mistake, and all she wants is to forget it and move on, even if that means forgetting Mason altogether. What's a guy to do? Well, if you're Mason, you hang your hopes on the first attractive twenty-three-year-old you cross paths with. At first Mason wonders if he's imagining the chemistry . . . until Colette invites him over to her apartment. Suddenly Mason's living in a whole new world.


At the outset of The Lighter Side of Life and Death, you are wrapping up a performance from a school play, which leaves you on an incredible high. Can you put into words why you love acting so much?

Acting is like getting the chance to live multiple lives. You feel all the intensity that the character feels and get a chance to try to express that to an audience. It’s a natural high to feel like you did a character justice and it’s addictive. I don’t think I could stop now. I want to put everything I can into acting.

For a long time it was just you and your dad, together. What's the hardest part about adding in a stepbrother and stepsister? The best thing?

Burke is hilarious. The stuff he says kills me. So having a little brother is the best thing about this. But it’s weird having so many people around the house all the time. It feels like there’s no space, no privacy. When something happens (like with me and Colette) it’s not just my dad that finds out about it now – it’s Nina too and that sucks. The absolute hardest part, though, has been dealing with Brianna. It’s like she had it in for me from day one and I didn’t choose this situation anymore than she did.

If things hadn't gone so far south between you and your best friend Kat, do you think you would have ever had the courage to pursue Colette, an older woman?

No. I don’t think it would have occurred to me that it was even possible for anything to happen between us if Kat and I hadn’t been together first (I would’ve felt like too much of a kid for Colette). And part of being with Colette in the beginning was that I really needed a distraction from all the Kat stuff. So I think we would’ve flirted a little in my kitchen the day of the shower and then Colette would’ve given me a ride home from The Java Bean that time and the only other time I would probably even run into her would be at my dad’s wedding.

Do you think the fact that you had to keep your relationship with Colette a secret made it more exciting?

In the beginning, yeah, definitely. But then I started to hate it because I knew Colette would be embarrassed for anyone to know we were together. That’s not a good feeling. So instead of it being this fun little secret it was as though we were in hiding.

What is one thing your friends would be surprised to learn about you?

The ones that don’t know about Colette would be pretty surprised about that! Usually I’m pretty open but I never really talked about how much I hated the modeling stuff my mom got me into as a kid. My friends know that I didn’t like it but they don’t know the extent of it. By the time I stopped I felt like a performing monkey or one of those trained dancing bears. I really don’t think anyone should steer their kids into modeling or even let them do it until they’re older and only then if they’re totally begging to do it. It’s just not good to have so much focus on how you look.


As part of the tour, I'm also hosting a GIVEAWAY for a signed copy of The Lighter Side of Life and Death and winner's choice of a TLS t-shirt or tote bag. This contest is for US/Canada only and will run through Tuesday, November 30th. Just fill out the form below for a chance to win.

Purchase C.K. Kelly Martin's books:


You may have noticed that I've been seriously neglecting this bloggy for some time now. I heartily apologize for my laxity in posting all things bookish -- but I have had a very good excuse. For some strange reason, I decided upon the brilliant idea of making my family Christmas presents this year and may have overestimated my crafting abilities a tiny bit. So in order to finish, I've been spending every spare moment for the past month or so furiously working on them. And since some of my family periodically checks this blog, I can't tell you what the Super Secret Christmas Crafts actually is -- just know they are totally awesome but also very, very time consuming.

So while I've been busy on my SSCC I've also been busy watching Firefly. It's yet another of those tv show I utterly missed out on but have since heard many good things about. So far I'm up to episode 10, 'War Stories', (yeah the SSCC has taken me that long) and I'm really starting to love it. My favorite episode so far has been 'Out of Gas' - I won't lie when I say I got a little teary eyed myself. How sad I am that there was only one season.

Although can anyone tell me -- what's with all the Chinese?!?

Matched by Ally Condie

At seventeen years old, Cassia is ready to attend her long-awaited Matching ceremony -- a special banquet where teens of the same age all throughout the Society finally find out who they have been matched with. Cassia's match is the boy she will one day marry, raise a family with, and ultimately spend the rest of her life with. What Cassia is not expecting from her tightly controlled, orderly Society is to be matched with her childhood friend (and all around good guy) Xander. Cassia is pleased and beyond surprised to be matched to someone she has known and liked her entire life. But Cassia's elation is tempered by a glimpse of the unexpected when she goes to her computer that night to learn upload her match file and sees -- just for a moment -- not Xander, but a different face on her screen. Someone else she has known for years, the distant and unique Ky Markham. Confused by her happiness with Xander yet plagued with a desire to learn more about Ky, Cassia finds herself torn between her duty to her family and Society and the chance to discover something completely different. But of course, the Society doesn't make mistakes and someone is always watching the choices Cassia chooses to make.

Dystopian novels have always been my go-to choice in books and so I've eagerly been awaiting the release of Matched for some time. Of course the cover is astoundingly beautiful and it even corresponds (somewhat) to portions of the novel, which I always love. The premise of the novel itself also had me intrigued from day one to say the least. A young girl rebelling against her controlling 'utopian' society for the first time? Awesome. After reading, I'm happy to say that Cassia indeed has a uniquely compelling voice. Her narrative wasn't without fault -- she would often repeat the same phrases over and over again, but I found her self-discovery refreshing and incredibly readable. Likewise learning about the Society structure were pretty darn interesting too. And can we get three cheers for good-guy Xander who still remains a really, really stand up fellow even when he discovers how Cassia feels? So refreshing. Truth be told, I read Matched in one sitting and immediately wanted the next installment. Praise aside, throughout the entire book I was constantly pulled from Cassia's story due to some glaringly obvious similarities to several other well-known YA dystopian novels.

While I feel like authors will inevitably owe debts to previous ground-breaking books, I felt like Matched lifted too much structure from Lois Lowry's The Giver and even Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. In their excellent review The Book Smugglers gave some fabulous examples of why Matched reminded them so much of The Giver and I too felt like the whole controlled life span and career set-up from Matched were nothing original. Furthermore, everything Cassia learns from Ky about the Outer Provinces and their rebellion reminded me so much of the outer Districts and their uprisings in The Hunger Games. Possibly if I had never picked up (and consequently loved) The Giver, I might have had a completely different reading experience with Matched. But I have read it and loved it. Hopefully Ally Condie will use her imagination a little bit more in the next installment becuase I for one am curious for the rest of Cassia's story. I just hope it's something a little more original.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Angieville review
The Book Smugglers review
The Compulsive Reader review
Forever Young Adult review
Persnickety Snark review

book source: ARC from the publisher

Brenna Yovanoff Interview

So today I'm so happy to have the ever-so-wonderful Brenna Yovanoff stopping by. Her debut novel The Replacement is making all kinds of waves and trust me, I was so happy to have a chance to find out more about her. Her blog is one of my top must-check stops every day because the woman is hilarious (which surprised me at first, because have you seen that shiverriffic cover?!?) The Replacement is out now, so make sure you check it out.

Okay, for starters what was it like for you, upon seeing The Replacement as a…wait for it… published and printed book for the very first time? Mainly I want to know if any squealing was involved.
There was no actual squealing because I have this weird thing where when I'm scared or excited, I can't make any noise—even on roller coasters.  However, there was a lot of sitting on the couch, staring blankly at the cover.  And on release-day, I went and visited it in the bookstore for something like 20 minutes . . . just hanging out . . . looking at it.
From the eerily fantastic cover, even your I-purchased-this-book-based-on-the-cover-alone-without-even-glancing-at-the-synopsis readers will immediately know that The Replacement is not your average happy, friendly fairy story. What led you to create a book about such menacing creatures who never feel the need to apologize for their behavior?
Honestly, I think the menace is something they evolved into.  It really took me a few drafts before they started to take on a life of their own, and believe me, they just got worse and worse.  And the thing is, they're never going to apologize because they don't even think they're doing anything wrong.

How are you planning to celebrate The Replacement’s release day?
Well, as I mentioned above, the first thing I did was head out to visit The Replacement in person at the bookstore.  After that, every celebratory activity revolved around food and hanging out with my friends, because I love both those things!

Every time I stop by your blog it seems like you are always talking about making a pie complete with delicious homemade piecrust. Seeing as I am all about pie working as an instant step towards instantaneous happiness, is this a super-secret piecrust recipe or one you’d be willing to pass on to your readers? Inquiring minds would like to know?
I am absolutely willing to share my recipe!  It's very simple—so non-bakers out there, don't be intimidated.  All you need is:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
6 Tablespoons cold water
Whisk the flour and salt together in a big bowl, then cut the shortening into the flour mixture using a pair of butter knives (you just drag them through the bowl in opposite directions, cutting the shortening into smaller and smaller pieces and letting it get caked with flour).
After the mixture starts to look like coarse crumbs with some pea-sized lumps in it, add the cold water and blend with a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape all the drier stuff off the sides of the bowl and into the mix.  After it's blended, gather it into a big ball, wrap it in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least half an hour before rolling it out and making your favorite pie!
The secret is to have the water *very cold* and to cut the ingredients together using knives in place of a pastry-cutter or a fork.  It takes a little longer, but the finished texture is super-flaky because the flour doesn't get over-mixed.

What book do you find yourself recommending over and over (and over) again?
Jellicoe Road, for sure.  Melina Marchetta is an incredible storyteller and her characters are so vivid and so raw.  I just love everything about the world and the story and the structure.  Also, I love Jonah Griggs.  But that's neither here nor there.

Thanks again for stopping buy Brenna! The Replacement is out now.

Fourth Annual Quidditch World Cup

It's true.
NPR ran a story a few days ago about several colleges around the country who will be participating in this years Fourth Annual Quidditch Cup. Abso-freakin'-awesome. Not only are these schools dusting off their broomsticks and quaffles in hopes of coming home the champion but they are also ultimately hoping the sport will eventually achieve NCAA recognized status.

However since all players don't have actual flying broomsticks, the rules have been altered. My favorite? The section on the snitch:
The snitch, otherwise known as the "Snitch Runner," is a guy with a sock hanging out of the back of his shorts. According to the official IQA rule book, "The Snitch Runner evades both Seekers at all costs, doing everything he can do to prevent the Snitch from being caught."
I seriously hope this guy is in amazing shape.
Frankly if you are a prospective college freshman, I'd take a good long look at my schools extra-curricular activities and make sure that Quidditch makes the cut. Cause that's a deal breaker.

spotted via Shelf Awareness.

The game is on!

Man, oh man. I just finished watching the first episode of the new Sherlock from PBS Masterpiece Mystery and I am in love. The creators have managed to blend just the right amount of intrigue, wit, and faced-paced revelations and action. And the relationship between Watson and Holmes...perfection. I am such a big fan of their modern incarnation. And very happy to still have two more episodes to go. Be sure to check out the episodes online - you can only see them for a few weeks.

Favorite line: "I'm in shock. Look! I've got a blanket!"